A Blast of Hollywood Heat
Wednesday's storms cooled things down, but the temperature in Cleveland Park shot right back up Thursday night with the arrival of some scorching Hollywood hotties. Actors Benjamin Bratt, Mark Consuelos, James Franco and Joseph Fiennes turned up looking mighty fine at the Uptown movie theater for the world premiere of the WWII drama "The Great Raid," set to open nationally Aug. 12.
On the red carpet, the actors played their parts brilliantly. "I love D.C. It's beautiful. I mean the architecture is very European," said Fiennes, even cuter in person than he was in "Shakespeare in Love." The actors took Washington 101 earlier in the day, hitting the World War II Memorial and the Holocaust Museum. "We were supposed to take a private tour of the White House but that never happened," said Franco, best known for his role in the "Spider-Man" movies as the hero's rival.
Once everyone piled into the theater, Miramax mogul Harvey Weinstein jumped onstage to introduce the film along with Sens. John McCain and Hillary Rodham Clinton -- did the lights flicker from the sudden power surge? After the premiere, 300 beautiful people migrated down Connecticut Avenue to the Omni Shoreham for an after-party hosted by Capitol File magazine, where local big shots including Jim Kimsey, Michael Saylor and Terry McAuliffe rubbed elbows with their Left Coast counterparts. The younger D.C. crowd set up camp on the outdoor terrace, where Consuelos and his super-skinny, super-cute wife, Kelly Ripa, eagerly chatted with fans. Alas, at midnight the party cooled as they all jumped into their hired cars and headed home. This time, we missed the heat.
The Road to Hipness
After attending an over-the-top, exotic soiree Wednesday called "Silk Road Celebration," there was nary a party person -- professional or otherwise -- who wasn't convinced that Mei N Yu is one of the hippest hot spots in Georgetown. "They really know how to throw a party here," said Lori Hill, one of many event-planner types in attendance. "And we're all very jaded by parties."
Each room of the two-story restaurant/bar was keyed to a journey along the old Silk Road -- Hong Kong bar, Moroccan bazaar, Turkish tent, Venetian bar, baroque room, ultra-cool Tibetan lounge. The scene -- which also included belly dancers, a fortuneteller and a henna tattoo artist -- was a knockout. And no camel lag.
Jim Wright, 'Flying' High
Wednesday's party for former House speaker Jim Wright was small in size (50 guests) and big on Democrats, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer and Reps. John Lewis, Chet Edwards and Dan Boren. Wright was back in the Capitol signing copies of "The Flying Circus," his account of serving as a bombardier in World War II.
It was another of Wright's books -- "Reflections of a Public Man" -- that led to his resignation in 1989, in the wake of a sweetheart deal that critics said violated House rules on honoraria limits. The allegations of ethical breaches were controversial. "If we knew then what we know now," Hoyer said, "this would have been perceived as a mistake, as something deserving of an admonishment or sanction but not removal." Wright says he resigned for the good of the institution. "I thought I'd shame and shock people into respect," he said. "I was foolish to think so."
"His departure marked the diminishment of civility," said Pelosi. "He made a plea as he left not to go down that course, but they did." Sixteen years later, Wright, 82, was all smiles. Cancer of the jaw has altered his speaking voice, but he happily signed each and every book as he greeted old friends who spent the night exchanging old war stories.
"Gotta go," said Hoyer. "Every party has its pooper," joked former lawmaker Lindy Boggs. And we're pretty sure she meant party with a small "p."
With Laura Thomas